Recent blog posts

Josh Kurtz: Speaker Mike Busch and the Thin Blue Line

You meet Maryland House Speaker Mike Busch (D) for breakfast in Annapolis recently, and he’s wearing a golf shirt from Harry Browne’s, the bar and restaurant on State Circle. Your initial reaction is, “Aha – the ultimate insider advertising the ultimate watering hole of insiders!” But of course, the proprietors of Harry Browne’s are also Busch constituents – the anomaly of the speaker also being the delegate from the capital city. A conversation with Busch outside of the legislative session is a delightful, unhurried stroll through a variety of unexpected topics: His empathy for U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.); his surprise when he finds Republican members of the House of Delegates at odds with Gov. Larry Hogan (R); State House reporters he has admired who have come and gone; the struggling state of the news industry; the city of Philadelphia, where he went to college and is looking forward to... Continue reading
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Kalman R. Hettleman: The Roots of Inequality in Baltimore: What Schools Can and Can’t Do

In an article in these pages last week, Dr. Leana S. Wen, Baltimore Commissioner of Health, wrote insightfully about public health’s role in “Tackling the Roots of Inequality in Baltimore.” Needless to say, city public schools must also play an indispensable leading part. But exactly how much can city schools do, and not do? And who’s to blame for what they now don’t do? At least 75 per cent of city students fail to meet national literacy standards, and other large school systems nationwide do no better.   Political rhetoric, right and left, gets in the way of clear answers. Both sides start from the same point: the landmark study in 1966 by Johns Hopkins University sociologist James S. Coleman showing that school resources mean less in determining student achievement than family economic and educational background. The point remains indisputable, but many conservatives and liberals take it too far and let... Continue reading
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Josh Kurtz: Another Elusive Political Prize

Quietly, Maryland’s Rod Rosenstein has become the longest-serving of the nation’s 94 current U.S. attorneys. The quiet part isn’t surprising: That’s Rosenstein’s customary way of doing things. But the longevity is – not because Rosenstein isn’t good at his job, but because of the politics that usually surround the appointments of the country’s top prosecutors. U.S. attorney is a plum political appointment – and ambitious lawyers are always lining up for consideration and beseeching a state’s U.S. senators to float their name to the president. Yet President Obama and Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D) and Ben Cardin (D) have passed on the opportunity to replace Rosenstein, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and has been in office since July 12, 2005. “He’s been there for a shockingly long time,” said one politically plugged-in Maryland attorney. “That’s a nice opportunity for a Democratic lawyer – we don’t have a ton... Continue reading
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Donald C. Fry: Timing Not Right for $15-per-hour Minimum Wage in Baltimore

A month ago I wrote in Center Maryland about a proposal before the Baltimore City Council to raise the minimum wage in Baltimore to $15 per hour and concerns that the wage increase wouldn’t address two serious city issues: chronic unemployment and a work skills gap. Since then the Greater Baltimore Committee, business owners and other private sector organizations have studied the potential effect the legislation would have on jobs and the business climate. The overwhelming conclusion: it is not the right time to increase the minimum wage in Baltimore City to $15-per-hour. The state’s minimum wage has been set at $10.10 per hour, an amount higher than the federal requirement. The state’s rate will be achieved incrementally with the next step increase to $8.75 per hour slated to occur on July 1. The state’s minimum wage is scheduled to “top out” at $10.10 per hour on July 1, 2018. As... Continue reading
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Sponsored Content | Doug Bradley: A Belated ‘Welcome Home’ for Vietnam Vets

I have to admit that for me — and I daresay for many of my fellow Vietnam veterans — two of the hardest days of the year are Memorial Day and Veterans Day. While much of the country goes overboard for those 48 hours, heaping abundant amounts of praise, gratitude and salutations upon us, we are haunted by the memories of those fellow soldiers and Marines we’ve lost and those who, even after they came back to America, never really made it home. Maybe that’s why tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans and their family members from across Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia will gather at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Md., for Father’s Day weekend 2016 (June 18 and 19). There, a two-day tribute event, dubbed LZ Maryland (LZ stands for Landing Zone in Vietnam parlance), will be held as part of a Vietnam War 50th anniversary observance coordinated by of the... Continue reading
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